was a furious fire which opened on the quartermaster's boat, the Warner, piercing her boilers, and completely disabling her. At the same time six thousand infantry opened with musketry, killing and wounding half the soldiers on this vessel. She drifted in to the opposite bank, where a number managed to make their escape in the bushes, though many were killed in attempting to do so. The Signal and Covington immediately rounded to and opened their guns on the batteries, and pushed up, endeavoring to rescue the Warner from her perlious position. They had, however, as much as they could do to take care of themselves, the cross-fire of the three batteries cutting them up in a terrible manner. Their steampipes were soon cut, and their boilers perforated with shot, notwithstanding which they fought the batteries for five long hours, the vessels being cut all to pieces, and many killed and wounded on board. Acting Volunteer Lieutenant George P. Lord, commanding the Covington, having expended all his shot, spiked his guns, set fire to his vessel, and escaped with what was left of his crew to the shore, and his vessel blew up. The Signal, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Edward Morgan, still fought her guns for half an hour after the destruction of the Covington. He found it impossible to destroy his vessel by burning, her decks being covered with wounded, and hamanity forbade him sacrificing the lives of the noble fellows who had defended their vessel so gallantly. Hegave permission to all those who wished to escape to do so. Some of them attempted to get off by climbing up the bank. Many were killed while doing so, by the murderous fire of musketry poured in from the opposite side. The captain remained by the vessel, and was captured, if he remained alive; but I have no information regarding him. The rebels took the guns off of her, and placed her across the channel as an obstruction — sunk her. General Banks, on hearing the news, sent out cavalry to hunt for the unfortunate men, many of whom were picked up and brought into Alexandria. A number escaped down-river, and went aboard some light-draught gunboats that were coming up at the time to the scene of action, but were driven back by the superior artillery of the enemy. I feel very much for the poor fellows who fell into the rebels' hands, as the latter have been very merciless to some of the prisoners they have taken, and committed outrages at which humanity shudders. The vessels will all return to their stations in a few days, as there is no prospect, under present circumstances, of renewing operations in this part of Louisiana, the season having passed for operating with any chance of success. I am sorry to see that the rebel guerrillas have become quite troublesome on the Mississippi since I left, all of which will be rectified within the coming week. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Additional report of rear-admiral D. D. Porter.
flag-ship Black Hawk, Mississippi Squadron, off mouth of Red River, La., May 19, 1864.sir: In my report in relation to the release of the gunboats from their unpleasant position above the falls, I did not think it prudent to mention that I was obliged to destroy eleven thirty-two pounders — not having time to haul them from above the fall to Alexandria, the army having moved and drawn in all their pickets. The best guns were hauled first. The thirty-two pounders were old guns, and would have been condemned on the first opportunity. For the same reason I also omitted to mention that I was obliged to take off the iron from the sides of the Pook gunboats, and from the Ozark, to enable them to get over. Not being able to haul this iron around the falls to Alexandria, from want of wagons, I ordered the gunboats to run up the river at night to a point where they could find from five to six fathoms of water, where the iron was thrown overboard, and where, in a few moments, it would sink many feet under the quicksands, thus leaving no possible chance for the rebels to recover it. The Pook vessels run so much better without this iron than they ever did before, and it never having been of any use to them, I propose leaving it off altogether. Their forward casemates are still heavily protected with iron, and as they always fight bow on, it is all they should carry. Besides, they are getting old, and having done a great deal of service without any repairs, they cannot bear the weight. They now run from two to two and a half knots faster than before. The Ozark is a miserable vessel. Her turret has ceased to work altogether, and is about twice as high and heavy as it should be. I really do not know what can be done with her, unless it is to take the turret off, and, with some additional strengthening, put casemates about her. This, when done, will enable her to lie at some of the points on the river where a formidable vessel is required. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Congratulatory letter to Pear-Admiral D. D. Porter.
Navy Department, May 31, 1864.sir: The Department acknowledges the receipt of your interesting report of the sixteenth instant, giving a detailed and graphic account of the rescue of the Mississippi squadron from its perilous position above the falls at Alexandria, Red River, and of the aid which you received through the indomitable perseverance and engineering skill of Lieutenant-Colonel Bailey, Acting Military Engineer of the Nineteenth army corps.